I am a coffee lover. I love caffeine. I love feeling alert and awake, especially while I’m working. In fact, I have a hot steamy mug of coffee in front of me right now.
Caffeine, like most performance enhancing substances, works. It is also a valuable tool that I use to get through my day, stay alert, and to help me do my best work.
That being said, I do not recommend taking caffeine or preworkout prior to a training session for several different reasons.
- Caffeine and other stimulants can actually restrict blood flow. This makes it harder to get nutrients into the muscles for recovery and can actually lead to greater risk of injury.
- Stimulants can cause dehydration, which can drastically affect your performance.
- Stimulants cause a rise in cortisol, which will already be on the rise during your training session!
- Over-reliance on stimulants during training sessions can seriously affect your adrenals!
- Using stimulants for training can seriously overload your central nervous system, causing energy to dip for the rest of the day.
So what should you do if you want to keep your energy up without stimulants? Here are some tips for that:
- Stay hydrated! Water is energy. If you get dehydrated it can decrease your mental and physical performance!
- Eat fat in the form of medium chain triglycerides (coconut and MCT oil). These medium chain fatty acids bypass the liver and get directly into the blood stream to help to fuel the brain.
- Avoid sugar, especially earlier in the day! As I’ve told you before, sugar can be an energy stealer because it stimulates a release of insulin which can cause your blood sugar to vary rapidly.
- Avoid overeating protein. This is for the same reason that I mention sugar. In fact a large serving of protein can be as insuinogenic as a candy bar!
- Make sure you’re getting restful sleep!
And here are some non stimulant based supplements that I like to take for increased energy!
- cordyceps mushrooms – cordyceps help you to use oxygen more efficiently. These can be really help prior to a metabolic conditioning session or jiu jitsu practice for example. One product that I like is Shroom Tech by Onnit. (note: yes Warrior Soul is an Onnit affiliate and we do make a few pennies if you use that link. Want to be honest as possible about that stuff and will tell you whenever we are or are not involved in making money off of anything). 4 Sigmatic (which we are not an affiliate of) also makes a fantastic mushroom coffee or tea that includes cordyceps, which could be great for those of you in the military who want a hot drink in the field.
- For brain work, Lion’s Mane is another mushroom that I use. Again, 4 Sigmatic makes an amazing Lion’s Mane based tear!
- Fish Oil or Omega 3’s. A large percentage of the dry weight of the brain is actually fat! Much of this should be Omega 3 fat. Supplementing with Omega 3’s is a great way of keeping your brain functioning at optimal levels.
Try these out and let me know what you think, and if you want to learn more tools, tactics, and practices to take your mental and physical performance to the next level, check out the Warrior Soul Fitness Foundations Course!